Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cotton & Thread Count

Cotton Sheets - InnStyleWhen considering cotton sheets, you should consider more than just thread count. Thread count is a measure of the number of yarns woven into one square inch of fabric. Thread count is important, but is only one part of the story. The quality of a sheet is determined by other key components as well, but it all starts with the quality of the fiber itself and the yarn from which it is made.

One of the world’s finest cotton is grown in Egypt. Egyptian cotton is renowned because it yields a long-staple cotton. The quality of the yarn is largely a function of the length of the staple or cotton fiber. This is because long-staple cotton can be spun into a smoother, stronger, much finer yarn so that it is possible to weave more threads per inch into the fabric resulting in a higher thread count. Many inferior, short-staple cotton yarns can be jammed into a square inch to create a higher thread count, but the resulting fabric can feel heavy and coarse–compared to a soft fine hand of an Egyptian or Pima cotton.

Pima Cotton is another fine cotton. Both Egyptian Cotton and Pima Cotton are made from premium cottons known for softness and luxury. Pima Cotton is an extra long staple cotton grown mainly in the southwestern U.S. These fibers are woven into a softer and more durable fabric than shorter cotton yarns. Pima Cotton is also known as Supima Cotton (which is a brand name).

After the finest cotton has been selected, spun and woven into cloth of the very best quality, the process doesn’t stop there. Finishing it can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product. Attention to detail continues into the fabric finishing and sewing which can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product.

Most all cotton sheets are mercerized-a process that helps plump the fibers, giving the fabric greater luster. When using a state of the art finishing process, it will bring out the subtle sheen of a sateen, the softest nap of cotton, the richest longest-lasting colors and enhances both the feel of the fabric and the quality of the weave.

When purchasing a luxurious Egyptian Cotton or Pima (Supima) Cotton sheet, you will notice the difference from a sheet claiming to be a high thread count. Again, the true quality of a cotton sheet is how it is grown, it’s construction and finishing process. Many sellers of sheets may claim on their packaging that it is a high thread count, Egyptian cotton, etc., beware of the small print as there are products with false labeling in the marketplace. In the small print, you will see that it states “feels like Egyptian Cotton “ and list a high thread count but in most cases, it is an all polyester product – not cotton.

Remember, you get what you pay for and when you pay a little more for your cotton sheets you get a much better quality!

 

The Beauty and Durability of Microfiber

Microfibers are used in a variety of fabrics, but most commonly in dress and blouse weight garments. They are very fine fibers, compared to more conventional forms − half the diameter of a fine silk fiber, one-third the diameter of cotton, one-quarter the diameter of fine wool, and one hundred times finer than human hair!

Although fine and lightweight, microfiber is anything but flimsy.

What is Microfiber?

In order to be classified “microfiber”, the fiber must be less than one denier. A denier is the weight, in grams, of a 9000-meter length of fiber or yarn. The higher the number − the thicker the fiber.

The many tiny fibers of microfiber are able to slide back and forth and maneuver around within the yarns of the fabric, allowing the fabric to flow and drape freely, yet still possess body and shape. Microfiber fabrics are generally lightweight, resilient or resistant to wrinkling and have a luxurious drape and body, retain shape and resist pilling. They are also relatively strong and durable in relation to other fabrics of similar weight.

How Microfibers are Manufactured

Man-made fibers are formed by forcing a liquid through tiny holes in a device, called a spinneret. In microfiber, the holes are finer than with conventional fibers. Potentially any man-made fiber can be made into a microfiber, but are most commonly found in polyester and nylon. Micros can be used alone, blended with conventional denier man-made fibers, or natural fibers such as cotton, wool and silk.

Benefits of Microfiber

Since these fine yarns can be packed tightly together, microfibers are especially useful in garments that require water repellency and wind resistance. Yet, the spaces between the yarns are porous enough to breathe and wick moisture away from the body. Microfibers seem less “clammy” to wear, and is the perfect choice for warm weather and athletic clothing.

Caring For Microfibers

Garments made of microfiber can usually be cared for similar to garments made of conventional fabrics. Fabrics made from regular polyester and nylon fibers can be machine-washed and tumble dried. Use of paper dryer sheets is not recommended because temporary spotting from the heat of the dryer may occur. Liquid fabric softener use is not a problem.

Viscose rayons perform best when dry-cleaned, however. As a general rule, fiber properties, not the fineness of the fiber, usually dictate recommended care. It is important that one follow the care instructions on a particular garment.

A few precautions should be observed when caring for microfibers. Because the fibers are so fine, heat penetrates the fabric more quickly than conventional fabric. As a result, glazing, melting or scorching can occur quickly. If pressing is necessary, use only a cool iron and do not leave the iron on the fabric too long.

As with any fine garments, avoid use of jagged jewelry that may cause pulls, snags or creates general abrasion.

The Future of Microfiber Garments

The strength of microfibers make them particularly adaptable to suede or sandwashed finishes, such as polyester and nylon, because of their extensive fiber surfaces and use of strong fibers. As such, suit jackets and bottom weights are becoming increasingly available in microfiber. Micros are becoming increasingly the fabric of choice in clothing such as lingerie, rainwear, outdoor fleeces, wind-resistant sportswear, track and jogging suits. Many microfibers simulate the appearance of sandwashed silk and are excellent for use in utility fabrics for use in tents and sleeping bags.

Microfiber garments are generally durable and provide long-lasting wear, despite their fine silk-like feel. Enjoy microfiber garments in your wardrobe!